Rally Australia is missing from the 2008 World Rally Championship calendar after CAMS, the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport, submitted a formal request to the FIA to delay its return to the WRC schedule until 2009.

The event was last part of the calendar in 2006 but was due to return to the schedule next season in a new home, having moved from its traditional base around Perth to the east coast.

CAMS reached agreement in principle with i-METT Queensland Group Pty Ltd to promote and organise the event for five years last year, with a deal being confirmed in March this year.

Since then, CAMS has worked on the sporting aspects of the event while i-METT worked on both promoting the rally and developing the area around the proposed base in South East Queensland. However, the plans were dependent on various government approvals being granted - which hasn't yet occurred.

"Whilst the receipt of this request is extremely disappointing to CAMS," a statement read, "having regard for the timing imperatives, CAMS believes that the request by i-METT to postpone the first Queensland event until 2009 is in the best interests of the FIA World Rally Championship, Australia's standing in the eyes of the world's motor sport community and the long term future of rallying in Australia."

The announcement that Rally Australia has requested to removed from the provisional 2008 schedule comes on the same day that the FIA released an updated version of the calendar following a World Motor Sport Council meeting in Paris.

Having been slated for a date in early September, the Australian event is indeed missing from the schedule with CAMS president Colin Osborne stating that his team would do everything it could to ensure a swift return to the schedule.

"CAMS will continue to work with all parties to retain Australia's place in the FIA World Rally Championship calendar and to support the development of a world class motor sport precinct," he said.

Aside from the removal of Rally Australia, the other major talking point surrounds the inclusion of Rally Mexico on the schedule at the end of February, with the event having not been on the provisional calendar for 2008 initially released by the FIA.

None of the three candidate nations vying for a slot, South Africa, Cyprus or Poland has made the grade. South Africa withdrew from the race of its own accord while the event in Cyprus was hit by protests that included two stages being disrupted and the FIA observer being taken 'hostage'. However, no official reason has been given as to why Cyprus or Poland aren't on the calendar.

The new calendar also reveals the events that will count towards both the Production Car World Rally Championship and the Junior Rally Championship.

The Production series will visit Sweden, Mexico and Argentina at the start of the year before a break leading into the Acropolis Rally in the summer. Rally New Zealand and the final two events of the year in Japan and Wales round out the seven round schedule.

The Junior season will start in April in Jordan before returning to Europe in Italy. Turkey, Finland, Germany and Spain complete the calendar.

2008 FIA World Rally Championship calendar:

Jan 25-27Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo
Feb 8-10Uddeholm Swedish RallyP
Feb 28-March 3Rally MexicoP
March 28-30Rally ArgentinaP
April 25-27Jordan Rally WRCJ
May 16-18Rallye d'Italia-SardegnaJ
May 30-June 1BP Ultimate Acropolis RallyP
June 13-15Rally of TurkeyJ
Aug 1-Aug 3Neste Oil Rally FinlandJ
Aug 15-17ADAC Rallye DeutschlandJ
Aug 29-31Rally of New ZealandP
Oct 3-5Rallye de EspanaJ
Oct 10-12Rallye de France Tour de Corse
Oct 24-26Rally JapanP
Nov 28-30Wales Rally GBP

P - denotes round of Production Car World Rally Championship
J- denotes round of Junior Rally Championship



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